Aristotelian Rhetoric: An Evolution of Sophist’s Discredited Methodology

1866 Words Jun 22nd, 2018 8 Pages
Scholars of rhetoric consider the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, one of the great contributors to our present understanding of this art which, since its early origins and until present, has been a controversial field of study because of its association with persuasion and influence. However, an examination of ancient rhetoric and its development by the Sophists and then a study on Aristotle’s theory on rhetoric and how he concluded his findings direct our attention to whether this Greek philosopher only included in his theory what he described as inadequate and non-fundamental Sophistic teachings, or actually built up his theory on their techniques, long bashed and overlooked. In this essay, I consider Aristotle’s rhetoric is an evolution …show more content…
Dissoi logoi refers to contradictory arguments, while kairos is associated with opportunity, time, circumstances, situation and decorum which relates to the use of appropriate words in a specific situation (Herrick, 2009, p. 39). In the sophistic dialectical method, speeches dealt with and started at either pistis which means a mere belief, doxa which means mere opinions, or with endoxa which refers to premises that were widely believed. “Facts were debatable, and could be ascertained only by allowing the clash of arguments to occur.” further explains how kairos was important in sophistic rhetoric as time, place and circumstances advanced the argument and then “truth was discovered, or perhaps created, in the decision finally reached by a jury hearing the clash” (Herrick, 2009, p. 39).
To this regard, Protagoras claimed that he could make a worse case appear better. The Sophists allegedly boasted he was able of flipping facts and opinions of “ignorant” public as claimed by Plato who explained that there was a need for ethical guidelines that should rule a rhetor’s address to the audience. Plato explained that the sophistic rhetoric misled the public by making the weak case appear stronger. According to Plato, such persuasion only revolves around mere beliefs, but does not
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